Plans to tear down two buildings as part of a bid to give Stockton's town centre a "once in a generation" boost have been unveiled.
The Castlegate Shopping Centre and Swallow Hotel are both set to be demolished as part of "bold" from the borough council which aim to tackle the issue of empty shops and open up the town to the river.
These buildings were bought by the authority in September before people were asked their views through a public consultation, which attracted close to 1,000 responses.
Councillor Nigel Cooke, the cabinet member for regeneration and housing:
Under the plans these two buildings - which occupy a site around three times the size of Trafalgar Square – will make way for a riverside park and offices.
The riverside park will feature public artwork and green spaces.
A “land bridge” structure will enable the park to span a section of Riverside Road, providing uninterrupted access to the waterfront.
The Council is also proposing to build a new central library, customer service centre and council office on the site with the aim of kick-starting its regeneration and saving money as part of plans to consolidate its 10 existing council offices into two.
The town’s main retail offer will be focussed on Wellington Square and other parts of the High Street and town centre, such as Silver Street.
Mr Cook said:
Under the plans shops which are in Castlegate will be given support to move elsewhere in the centre if they want to do so.
Funding for these proposals would come from £20m of Tees Valley Combined Authority funding and £21m from the Government’s £1bn Future High Streets Fund.
Tees Valley Mayor, Ben Houchen, has sent a letter to the Government giving his support to the scheme.
Mr Houchen said:
Bill Grimsey, the retail expert and author of The Grimsey Review, addd:
The plans will be considered at meeting of the Council’s Cabinet on Thursday, February 20. If agreed, the decant of tenants from Castlegate would get under way with a view to starting the demolition of Castlegate and the Swallow Hotel in 2022.
The construction of the riverside park and office buildings would follow with a target completion date of 2025.